The True Story Behind How Doritos Were Invented At Disneyland

 Disneyland castle and modern doritos logo.
Disneyland castle and modern doritos logo.
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While most people go to Disneyland to go on the best rides or to meet their favorite movie characters, there’s another really good reason to pop over to the theme park: The food. Unlike your average amusement park or carnival, the food at Disneyland is on another level, with some truly inspired dishes that you won’t really find anywhere else. Case in point: Disneyland has even been the place where some iconic foods like Doritos have been created.

Yes, your favorite seasoned tortilla chip to eat on game day has its origins in the Happiest Place On Earth. The food that we know as Doritos was first served at a single location inside Disneyland, almost by accident, before it was realized that the chips could be mass-produced and sold to the world. Here is the story.

How Food Was Handled In The Early Days Of Disneyland

No place like Disneyland had ever been built when Walt Disney had the idea to open the first theme park. As such, nothing quite as expensive as the Southern California-based park had ever been created. In fact, though, Walt looked for any way he could to help offset the cost and one of the big ways he did that was by bringing in corporate sponsorship.

Many companies were interested in working with Walt Disney, and so they would sponsor attractions, which included the corporate partner paying a significant portion of the development and creation of the attraction. The same was the case with all the food locations in the park. When Disneyland opened in 1955 every single food and drink location was run by an outside company who leased the space in the park from Disney.

Two months after Disneyland opened, the Frito Lay company opened Casa de Fritos. It served simple Mexican food like rice and beans, tamales and enchiladas, as well as a “taco in a teacup” which was essentially a small taco salad.

DIsneyland hotel logo and Doritos Logo
DIsneyland hotel logo and Doritos Logo

How Doritos Were Officially Created

While Frito Lay ran the location and provided the Fritos chips, the other ingredients all came from a local supplier called  Alex Foods, which also was responsible for several other restaurants at Disneyland.

According to Walt's Disneyland, it was a salesman from Alex Foods (whose name has been lost to time) who reportedly visited Casa de Fritos one day. He reportedly saw firsthand just how many tortillas were getting thrown in the trash every single day. The salesman's suggestion? Rather than toss them out, he thought the locations should cut them up and fry them, and then serve them to the customers. The original Doritos was born, but it had no flavoring at that time.

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The chips were an immediate hit and were given to guests free as an alternative to a bag of Fritos. Yet, as the Omnibus Project points out, nobody at Fritos was told about the competitive chip. In 1964, a Frito Lay VP named Arch West was visiting Casa de Fritos when he noticed the popular chips. He made a deal with Alex Foods to produce the chips and they were test-marketed in Southern California. They reportedly sold out faster than Alex Foods could produce them.

You could still see the connection between Disneyland and Doritos for years. If you look at the side-by-side of classic logos in the image in this story, you can see how the original Doritos logo even from borrowed from the Disneyland logo at the time.

The building that housed Case de Fritos still stands today, it's the Rancho Del Zocalo Restaurante, located near Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. It's no longer sponsored by Frito Lay, and Doritos are not available. But there's always room for new attractions at Disneyland down the line.